Gainesville

The Gainesville Leopards continue to make history.

After opening the season with a win for the first time since 2014, Gainesville backed that up with a 34-10 win over Fort Worth Southwest on Friday, Sept. 6.

The Leopards’ two wins to start the season marks the first time since 2013 that they’ve started 2-0.

Gainesville head coach James Polk said the team is well on its way to its goal of a winning record before it hits district play.

“I’m really excited for the kids,” Polk said. “It’s good for them to start to kind of get this feeling and it is really satisfying, because you preach all the time about buying in and the philosophy, do your job, be a good teammate, be a good student. And this group of kids that I have, they’re all good students, they’re all good kids in the community. They get along. We don’t have all the drama and all those kind of things. They like their coaches. So everything is coming together and it’s good to get off to a good start.”

In both of the Leopards’ wins this season, they have been able to respond in a big way after the other team scored.

Polk said in years past, they would have let that affect their play.

Not this season.

“Early last year and the year before, when we faced a little adversity, it was hard for us to rebound,” Polk said. “But after the last half of last year, and starting off the year this year, it’s really showing that we’ve mentally gotten tougher and we’ve gotten stronger. In the past seasons, if they go right down and score our heads were dropped. But this year, we’re gonna come back.”

The Leopards’ offense was bailed out at times by their defense, which delivered four more turnovers against Southwest, including three fumbles and one interception.

“The one thing that we are doing is we’re winning the field position battle,” Polk said. “Both games, Bruce Davis, our special team coordinator, has done a great job coming up with some schemes and putting the right people in the places that they need to be to be successful. A lot of coaches say the special teams is important, and it’s a third of the game, but they don’t coach it. We spent just as much time on special teams as we do offensively and defensively.”

Polk said special teams gets 35 minutes of work per day while the offense and defense get the other 50 minutes.

“That’s a lot, especially things for high school football program,” Polk said. “I think it’s showing up.”

The defense shut out Southwest in the second half after Gainesville held a 13-10 lead at halftime.

Brandon Baker led the offense with 120 yards and two touchdowns while CJ Feagins also had 48 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Isaiah Gipson added 13 yards and a touchdown.

Gainesville’s passing game struggled mightily and didn’t having any completions or yards.

“The offense didn’t have a lot of yards because our defense played really well,” Polk said. “A lot of times offenses can have super stats because their defense is terrible and they’ve got the whole field to go or they always get the ball back because the other team is scoring. And so we could have played a little bit better, but I’m not distressed about it.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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